A Woman’s Dog Led Her to Start a Pet Photography Business and Help Save Shelters

“It was definitely 100% inspired by Stella,” said Laura Wombwell, owner of Laura Wombwell Photography.

Laura Wombwell’s life changed course when she adopted her first rescue dog, a butterfly named Stella.

“She was in a mill for six years,” Wombwell said. “It was amazing to watch her go from that little shell of a thing to a dog.”

Stella was the reason Wombwell decided to grab a camera and try his hand at pet photography. Wombwell said she once borrowed her mother’s DSLR camera while playing with Stella in the garden.

“I took pictures of her and I was like, ‘Oh, I love this!'” she said of the memory.

Today, Wombwell owns Laura Wombwell Photography.

Through her business, Wombwell said she captures the love between pet owners and their pets. She has mostly photographed dogs and cats, but has also photographed a horse, a hedgehog, and a bearded dragon.

“Animals are my absolute favorite subjects, they can only be themselves. As a photographer, that’s exactly what you want,” Wombwell said of his work.

She notes that pet owners are often more nervous about the photo shoot than pets, but become more comfortable as the process progresses.

“Our pets are so pure and a positive influence on our lives,” Wombwell said. “We don’t always see what that love looks like with our pets.”

Wombwell says she works quite well with older dogs and dogs in hospice care. In these scenarios, she said she does not charge a session fee and the only costs are for printing materials. She still has prints from a session with a little dog named Foxxi, who suffered from heart disease.

“She was amazing, running through the sand, looking like a model,” Wombwell said.

A week after the photoshoot, Foxxi passed away and Foxxi’s mother contacted Wombwell to thank her for the photos.

“I’m so glad we had a perfect morning before he left,” Wombwell said, recalling the message.

Along with his company, Wombwell also supports local animal shelters and animal rescues with their fundraising initiatives. She has worked with the Guelph Humane Society, Save Me Dog Rescue, Taffy’s Legacy and many others in the Wellington and Waterloo area.

“That’s actually how I learned about photography,” Wombwell said of working with these organizations to produce everything from greeting cards to calendars, calling it a “cornerstone” of his company.

“It’s so amazing to play a small part in helping this animal get a home he deserves,” Wombwell said, adding that she’s taking part in an upcoming fundraiser named ‘St. Pawtrick’s Day’. March 18 with a band called Dog Friendly KW and Taffy’s Place

In addition to doing studio and outdoor portrait sessions, Wombwell also creates something she calls “Muttsterpieces”, creative works of art where the animal acts like a human. One day the editor contacted Wombwell about her Muttsterpieces and asked if they could do a story on her. Wombwell said she created a Muttsterpiece of Oprah’s dog for the article.

“It was really nice, I don’t know if Oprah has seen it yet, but I have this magazine in a special place,” Wombwell said.

For Wombwell, just knowing that people love his work is the special part of this experience with Oprah Magazine.

“The most important part is getting customer feedback,” Wombwell said. “I’ve had people reach out to me and say, ‘I’m glad we did this. To me, that’s worth 100 Oprah magazines.”

This year, Wombwell says she’ll be taking her photography business full-time, which will give her the ability to take on more client work and personal projects with animal shelters.

This is thanks to his “pet” Stella.

“She changed my life,” Wombwell said of Stella, “and becoming her human mother was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done.”

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Jennifer R. Strohm